L. David Mech
L. David Mech
|Alma mater||Cornell University, |
|Known for||Wolf ecology and behavior research|
|Institutions||University of Minnesota, |
U.S. Geological Survey
|Website||Business website: http://www.davemech.org Personal website: http://www.davemech.com|
Lucyan David Mech (//; born January 18, 1937), also known as Dave Mech, is an American biologist specializing in the study of wolves. He is a senior research scientist for the U.S. Geological Survey and an adjunct professor at the University of Minnesota. He has researched wolves since 1958 in locations including northern Minnesota, Isle Royale, Alaska, Yellowstone National Park, Ellesmere Island, and Italy.
Mech is the founder of the International Wolf Center and is the vice-chair of its board of directors. The project to create the facility, which he started in 1985, was a natural outgrowth of his wolf research as well as his ambition to educate people about the nature of wolves that they may come to respect the creature through understanding.
He has published eleven books and approximately 380 scientific papers and 100 popular articles about wolves and other wildlife, including The Wolf: The Ecology and Behavior of an Endangered Species (1970, University of Minnesota Press) and Wolves: Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation which he co-edited with Luigi Boitani (2003, University of Chicago Press). Both books remain in print as of 2017. The 1997 book The Arctic Wolf: Ten Years with the Pack received an Honorable Mention by the National Outdoor Book Award (Nature and the Environment category). His latest book with Doug Smith and Dan MacNulty is Wolves on the Hunt: the Behavior of Wolves Hunting Wild Prey.
Career and research
From 1958 to 1962 Mech was a graduate student at Purdue University studying the wolves of Isle Royale in Lake Superior. One of the first publications on the subject of the Wolves on the Island of Isle Royale was the book "The Wolves of Isle Royale" by Mech which led to the prominence of both the author and the topic. The book was published in 1966 by the Department of the Interior, having evolved from his doctoral thesis. Mech has been called one of the foremost wildlife biologists in the world. In 1966 he went to study wolves in the Superior National Forest in Minnesota. As described by Mech:
My research involves monitoring wolf-deer relations in the Superior National Forest of Minnesota, determining the degree and manner of influence of each population on the other, and exploring the role of other factors, especially snow conditions and canine parvovirus, that influence the system. With the same system and research techniques, I am also attempting to learn as much as possible about basic life history, movements, and social ecology of both species. I have also conducted research in Denali National Park, Alaska; Ellesmere Island, Nunavut, Canada; and in Yellowstone National Park. The Denali work involved examining the interactions between wolves and caribou, moose, and Dall sheep. The Ellesmere research concentrates primarily on observing the interactions of pack members with each other and with pups around a den. Supplementary work in the area includes observing wolf interactions with musk-oxen and arctic hares as well as studying wolf movements throughout the year remotely by GPS radio collars in collaboration with co-workers. The Yellowstone National Park studies concentrate primarily on wolf interactions with prey, including mortality and survival studies of elk.
"Beginning in 1986, the legendary biologist L. David Mech spent 25 summers observing wolves..." on Ellesmere Island. Mech said that his research on the wolves at Ellesmere Island was different because it is one of the few places where the wolves are not afraid of people, making that experience one of the best in his life. This project in 1986 when photographer Jim Brandenburg told him of white wolves he had seen on Ellesmere Island during an assignment for National Geographic. Mech recognized the rare opportunity to study wolves that had never been hunted and had little fear of humans. Also there were no trees or bushes to hide them from view in the tundra. In the summer Mech found the den near the military and weather base at Eureka. They witnessed the interactions within the pack and the wolves hunting musk oxen. This type of research had not been done before. In an interview Mech said "The kind of stuff I got here was not just the objective behavioral stuff, but the kind of thing you get from living with a pet of some sort. You get an insight into the thing. You get to know the animal." Mech and Brandenburg together produced several articles and a film for National Geographic.
Positions on hunting, fishing and trapping and wolf management
An avid mushroom hunter and fur trapper, Mech has continued to support fishing, hunting, and trapping, which has led to criticism from animal protectionists. He believes that states can manage wolves sustainably, and that states where the wolf were no longer on the endangered list should determine how wolves should be managed in their state. On his website, he lists mink trapping as one of his interests. He closed the abstract to "Is science in danger of sanctifying the wolf?" published in the January 2012 issue of Biological Conservation with "The wolf is neither a saint nor a sinner except to those who want to make it so."
Dave Mech was actively involved in the reintroduction of wolves to areas from which they had disappeared through human activities. After more than 45 years of wolf population recovery, the US Department of Wildlife Protection removed the wolf from the list of endangered species after the species had reached a favourable conservation status. Only the subspecies Mexican wolf is excluded from this and remains on the list.
More recent publications by David Mech deal with wolf management through regulation. He writes that every year a certain percentage of a wolf population must be killed by humans (in addition to natural mortality) to keep a wolf population stable. According to his findings, about 50% of young wolves over 5 to 10 months old must be killed each year to bring a wolf population under control. In a 2017 publication, he describes, among other things, the livestock-depredation control in America.
Mech's first book was published in 1966 and has written eleven published books. He has published approximately 380 scientific papers and 100 popular articles about wolves and other wildlife including The Wolf: The Ecology and Behavior of an Endangered Species (1970, University of Minnesota Press) and Wolves: Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation which he co-edited with Luigi Boitani (2003, University of Chicago Press). Both books remain in print as of 2017. The 1997 book The Arctic Wolf: Ten Years with the Pack received an Honorable Mention by the National Outdoor Book Award (Nature and the Environment category). His latest book with Doug Smith and Dan MacNulty is Wolves on the Hunt: the Behavior of Wolves Hunting Wild Prey. The International Wolf Center lists approximately 140 articles written by Mech published during the period of 1987 to the present, primarily in scientific journals.
Education & Awards
When conferring him an additional honorary degree in 2005 Purdue University described his work as: "Mech’s long-term studies of the wolf and other wild vertebrates have resulted in nearly 400 scientific, semi-technical and popular publications or articles. His scholarly contributions have expanded the understanding of wolf ecology more than any other individual. No one has written about, spoken of or debated the status and future of the wolf more than him. He has contributed to virtually every wolf conservation effort that the planet has seen in recent decades. In recognition of his accomplishments, Mech was awarded the Wildlife Society’s highest honor in 1993, the Aldo Leopold Award. Purdue previously honored him as recipient of the Distinguished Agricultural Alumni Award in 1995 and the Distinguished Undergraduate Research Award in 2000."
- Meech, L. David. "Dave Mech". Retrieved July 14, 2020.
- https://news.uns.purdue.edu/html3month/2005/05Hondocs/05.MECH.html 2005 Honorary degree Retrieved July 3, 2018
- The Far Reach: The lifework of a Minnesota biologist circles the world by Greg Breining Pages 32-41 Minnesota Department of Resources Conservation Volunteer Magazine. January–February 2004
- University of Minnesota information page on David Mech Retrieved March 4, 2017
- Alone with wolves by Neil Shea National Geographic Magazine September 2019 issue Pages 117 - 133
- Dave Mech film "Dave Mech" film by Conservation Minnesota Copyright 2009.
- David Mech's position on wolf management by David Mech
- ' "Science is self correcting" - on Wolves' by Ban Nock Retrieved February 16th., 2017
- Webpage of L. David Mech
- Is science in danger of sanctifying the wolf? by L. David Mech Januuar 12012 issue of 'Biological Conservation' Retrieved February 16, 2017
- US Department of the Interior: Administration Returns Management and Protection of Gray Wolves to States and Tribes Following Successful Recovery Efforts
- U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service: Gray Wolf (Canis lupus)
- L. David Mech: Managing Minnesota's recovered wolfes
- Todd K. Fuller, L. David Mech, Jean Fitts Cochrane: Wolf Population Dynamics Seite 184
- Scott Creel, Jay J. Rotella: Meta-Analysis of Relationships between Human Offtake, Total Mortality and Population Dynamics of Gray Wolves (Canis lupus)
- L. David Mech: Where can wolves live and how can we live with them?
- books list page of Mech web site
- Wolf Center listing of published articles by David Mech retrieved February 15th 2017
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